I was on my way to get something out of my bedside table when I saw a little face peering in my window. I noticed the coloring and saw that she was standing on her hind legs trying to look inside. Coco? The long hair, her tail…I scanned her and was obviously squealing in delight. It was her! Coco! I yelled for my daughter who was all ready on her way to my room hearing my excitement. She told me to calm down that I was so loud. I ran passed her to go to the patio and the little cat came right to me. I scooped her up, squeezing her and telling her how happy I was to see her. My youngest daughter had followed me outside and we were both loving up on her. I brought her downstairs to see my oldest daughter who bolted up in her bed when I told her who was in my arms. I called the owner to make sure she knew she was back. She was gone almost a month.
I was so certain that Coco was dead. I envisioned many scenarios of harm befalling this poor sweet animal. I relived the horrible sound that jolted me from sleep; the sound of something being killed. I spent days trying to recollect the day that happened. I went over texts to people who I thought that maybe I shared that with to see if there was a timeline that could correlate to Coco’s disappearance. I shed many tears. I looked for her every day; out my windows, going to my car, driving home. I prayed but I confessed to God my lack of faith that she was alive.
This situation is a perfect representation of what Eckhart Tolle talks about in A New Earth.
The voice in my head, a thought, created a situation out of my perceptions and emotions that was not true. I was simply observing possible facts: outdoor cat, busy street, fast cars, heavy vehicles, eagles nesting over our houses, cougars, racoons, worry I already had had about her safety, etc.
I was angry with my neighbour, “How could she just let Coco roam around in a dangerous environment. How could she think her cat is too heavy for an eagle to pick up?”
I judged the owner, “I have cats and I would not let them roam the neighbourhood. It is irresponsible.”
I personalized the cat’s disappearance.
Eckhart says, “Every ego confuses opinions and viewpoints with facts. Furthermore, it cannot tell the difference between an event and its reaction to that event. Every ego is a master of selective perception and distorted interpretation. Only through awareness–not through thinking–can you differentiate between fact and opinion. Only through awareness are you able to see: There is the situation and here is the anger I feel about it, and then realize there are other ways of approaching the situation, other ways of seeing it and dealing with it. Only through awareness can you see the totality of the situation or person instead of adopting one limited perspective.”
For the most part, I consider myself aware. After Coco’s disappearance but before she returned, I felt compassion for Coco’s owner. She put flyers up everywhere and handed them out to each home on our street and in the large subdivision located behind our houses. She is a nurse who works long shifts, day and night, and she lives alone in a tiny basement suite. Of course she loved Coco and didn’t want to leave her inside, alone, for hours on end. Coco was the neighbourhood cat. She would sleep in another neighbour’s sunroom and in another neighbour’s tree house. There were 2 other outdoor cats, Max and Minnie, and the 3 of them would congregate in my backyard. The other 2 were still present. It broke my heart when I heard my neighbour out calling Coco’s name. I put on my shoes and went to her to offer support and encouragement. I told her that my cat escaped and went on an adventure for 7 weeks before coming home. I stopped crying about it. I also started praying and begging God to please just bring Coco home.
It is just easy sometimes to get caught up in our emotions, our stories and sometimes our perceptions are not real; they are just illusions that we created. It can rob us from joy and turn us into compulsive thinkers. Coco’s disappearance and return was a huge light bulb reminder that I still need to check in with my ego, especially in times of stress, conflict and emotion.